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Alternate cover edition of ISBN 9781626492806

Laurence Dalziel is worn down and washed up, and for him, the BDSM scene is all played out. Six years on from his last relationship, he’s pushing forty and tired of going through the motions of submission.

Then he meets Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, fierce, and vulnerable. Everything Laurie can’t remember being.

Toby doesn’t know who he wants to be or what he wants to do. But he knows, with all the certainty of youth, that he wants Laurie. He wants him on his knees. He wants to make him hurt, he wants to make him beg, he wants to make him fall in love.

The problem is, while Laurie will surrender his body, he won’t surrender his heart. Because Toby is too young, too intense, too easy to hurt. And what they have—no matter how right it feels—can’t last. It can’t mean anything.

It can’t be real.

437 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2015

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About the author

Alexis Hall

49 books9,935 followers
Genrequeer writer of kissing books.

Please note: I don’t read / reply to DMs. If you would like to get in touch, the best way is via email which you can find in the contact section on my website <3

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,378 reviews
Profile Image for Julio Genao.
Author 9 books1,969 followers
November 10, 2015
spectacularly good.


subversive, clever, and full of surprises.

my hands-down favorite bdsm-themed romance.

hall's books are always so thoughtful, and his aesthetic so similar to mine—i am simply powerless to resist them.

i ate this badboy up like a slice of lemon meringue pie.

more, please!

PS: it is occasionally and gloriously a one handed read:


...make of that what you will.
May 3, 2015

Nearly 500 pages of brilliant, thoughtful writing.

But his [cock] I could be kind of obsessed with. It's really ... beautiful, all strong and straining, needy and aggressive at the same time, and sheathed in gleaming skin, with these drops of moisture crowning the tip, like tiny perfect opals ... they'd taste of heat and salt and tears and him.

And that is the most delicious description of a cock. EVER.

In his review, Julio called this book "subversive, clever, and full of surprises."

I concur.

Laurie's friends call 19-year-old Toby "a fetus."

Toby is young, skinny, a little awkward, plagued by occasional acne. But he's not naive. Well, maybe he's a little naive, but he's willing to push his own boundaries, to explore. He's a gentle sadist, and he just wants a man to drop to his knees.

Laurie does just that in a moment of impetuousness, but he's all kinds of hung up on his past long-term relationship (which, incidentally, ended six years prior) and on the 18-year age difference between himself and Toby.

Laurie lives in his head. He crowds his feelings and drowns in his work as a emergency care physician.

The book is very much relationship focused.

It's kinky and sexy and British.

Because we are privy to both Toby and Laurie's perspective, we're aware of their insecurities and fears.

Toby wants MORE from Laurie, but Laurie is a closed book.

The two men do much talking, negotiating, learning, and thinking.

For Real is all about the DANCE.

BDSM isn't all dungeons and leather and whips. It's vulnerability, spreading yourself open, pushing, taking, giving.

It's about tears. And hurts. And jealousy. And love.

[W]e put our arms around each other again. I lead and Laurie follows ... and there's moonlight, and we dance and dance and dance until we fly and my heart is so zing, I can't even.

Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,827 reviews5,504 followers
June 9, 2015
*4.5 stars*

I love it when I'm wrong.

I had started fearing everything that I had loved about Alexis Hall's Glitterland was a figment of my imagination. Perhaps I had dreamed the wonderful, squee-worthiness that was Glitterland? Stranger things have happened...

I tried, with epic failures, to read his other stuff (Iron & Velvet, Prosperity, Waiting for the Flood). Each of those books was a huge disappointment, and I decided to just throw in my Alexis Hall towel and snuggle down to dream my dreams of what Glitterland meant to me.

I was feeling really, really firm in my stance of NO MORE ALEXIS HALL. In all honesty, I hate to be a downer, and constantly posting somewhat negative reviews of his stuff was beginning to wear on me. Even when I read the synopsis for For Real and was oh so tempted by the age gap, the BDSM, and the return to contemporary romance, I reminded myself to be strong and RESIST.

But then... I caved.

Everyone and their mother seemed to be rec-ing this book to me. Everyone. People who know my tastes very well assured me that I would love this book, and so I went ahead and took the plunge.

It was everything that I was hoping it would be and then some. Funny, endearing, lots of emotion, some surliness and some brattiness- I'm talking the entire, well-rounded package. The age difference was lovely and worked perfectly with the story. The relationship had a nice slow burn and felt organic. This is a very long book and it simply flew by.

Now, if you are a die-hard fan of BDSM, I'm not sure how you will enjoy this book. I like BDSM a great deal, but certain facets more than others. I'm a huge fan of power plays, humiliation, submissiveness, and cheeky bottoms. I'm not such a huge fan of pain and impact play. This book was certainly more towards my kind of BDSM in a lot of ways... but yet something wasn't quite right. Toby was a weird Dom for me. I LOVED, and I mean loved the idea of a young, skinny Dom with some insecurity issues, but I often felt like he was in the submissive roll. Now, I'm not talking about sexual positions, because I TOTALLY get how the receiver could be the one in charge (see every female Domme ever), but Toby just wasn't a powerful enough presence for me to get a Dom vibe from him. He had his moments, but I wish his actions mirrored the game he talked in his head.

Same with Laurie. He said he doesn't switch but I often found him to be the more dominant one. I loved the concept of him doing things he didn't want to do in order to please his Dom (a turn on of mine as well), but I think he didn't always follow that stance. It seemed like they were both a little switchy for my tastes.

I also think that the sex could have been a bit dirtier. Maybe it is just my kinktastic side talking, but I love me some dirty, dirty, DIRRRRTY talking. I think the opportunities were there but just underutilized.

However, if you are interested in an offbeat, atypical BDSM book with some fantastic dialogue, multidimensional characters, and really well-paced plot, you MUST pick this one up. Don't let some bumps in the Alexis Hall road turn you off from this goodie.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Profile Image for Gigi.
2,156 reviews1,055 followers
November 8, 2015

Advanced review copy of For Real provided by Riptide Publishing via Net Gallery in exchange for an honest review.

Folks attracted to this book enough to read reviews are most likely looking for a hot and steamy BDSM romp. And, boy do you get it here! Hotter and steamier than any BDSM book I've read in years! But what will surprise most of you is that behind all this glorious pain and submission is an absolutely beautiful love story. For Real is a M/M romance which just so happens to include characters that enjoy a D/s relationship.

Laurie Dalziel is a 37 year old trauma doctor still pining for a relationship that was over more than 6 years ago. Laurie and his ex Robert shared a D/s bond for 12 years and Laurie was happy and in love. When the relationship ended (the reason behind the break-up is a bit of a spoiler, so I'll let you discover that for yourself) Laurie was terribly upset and he continues to mourn that loss. (You will see Robert's name pop up constantly while reading this book. It does get a little annoying, especially when he is speaking with Toby, but I believe that Laurie does not miss Robert, the man, but the connection they shared.) To help ease some of the loneliness, Laurie does engage in one-night-stands, but he has been unable to find someone he trusts enough to enjoy his submissive tendencies.

Toby Finch is a 19 year old cook at a greasy spoon diner. He knows he is gay but he feels his sexuality is different from his peers. He likes to dream of hurting another man for pleasure. To see if that kind of kink is really for him, he visits a BDSM club called Pervocracy, where he first meets Laurie. Laurie decides to help Toby figure out if his eagerness to dominate is a worthless predilection or if he really does have the power to dominate. He brings Toby home to share a scene and, of course, their chemistry is combustible.

The meat of the story is Laurie enjoying a D/s relationship with, while trying to keep emotionally detached from, Toby. Their vast age difference is a problem and he feels Toby has a lot of growing to do and life to see before he settles down with one person. Toby does everything in his play book to get Laurie to fall in love with him so they can start their HEA. There is super-hot melt-the-paint-off-the-walls sex, more angst than you can shake a stick at, sexual experimentation and bucket loads of passion. SO. MUCH. FUN!

One of the best ways for me personally to figure out if a book is right for me to read is to see what other people feel are similar books. I'm going to list a few, in case you still need convincing.

Toby reminded me of Darian from Alexis Hall's wonderful Glitterland. I could not have loved him more. If you liked Glitterland, you are going to love this book. If you liked the kink and depravity of Bound by Lies and Uneven, you will find the same type on depravity and humiliation in this book. If you enjoyed the strong emotional connection between Corey and Sean in The Final Line, Matthew and Kira from the Turning Point series and Prophet and Tom from the Hell or High Water series, you will love Toby and Laurie. The passion and emotion between the two men is spectacular.

I have given For Real the highest possible rating I can, which is 5 stars and a place on my Fuck Yeah, 5+ Stars shelf. This is one of the best books I have ever read and I look forward to re-reading it many, many times. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

This review is also posted at Gay Book Reviews

Profile Image for Vanessa North.
Author 42 books510 followers
May 25, 2015
A few months ago, I was whining to Alexis Hall about how few kinky books there are that don't seem to have ghastly rapey backstories, etc. etc, and that I really just wanted to read something filthy and romantic without rape or abuse and why was that particular combination so damned difficult to find?

And he said something along the lines of "Um, I might have written something like that, it's in edits, but I'll send it to you."

To which I said "OMG GIMME" or something equally horrible and enthusiastic.

So, he sent me this book, and I read it and I wrote back:

"this book is gorgeous and romantic and beautifully filthy."

And it is. Gorgeous, romantic, and beautifully filthy. I've re-read that mid-edit version probably a half dozen times, and I find more to love with every re-read.

To date my favorite of AJH's books. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 72 books2,481 followers
June 3, 2015
Wow. This book goes straight into my favorites. BDSM, but with much more focus on the psychology, the needs of the two men and the balance of the relationship, than any mechanics of the physical side. Not that there aren't excellent sexual episodes in it, but there are no formal scenes here, no careful planning and stylized progression. Just two men, one older, one younger; one experienced in the scene, one completely new to it; one broken by losing love through no fault of his own, one urgently seeking something he's never had... and the young, inexperienced guy is the Dom.

This worked for me on so many levels. The writing is excellent. (If you haven't tried this author yet, and were daunted by the accent or the steampunk of other stories, try this one.) The men are imperfect, physically as well as in their very human emotions and psychology. The progression through the relationship is organic, not formalized, moving in very believable fits and starts. There are wonderful moments and painful moments and I read it in one breathless evening, then went back to the beginning.

Laurie is a doctor, in his late thirties, and six years out of the relationship he thought would be his forever. His ex was his first everything - first real kiss, first sex, first love, first Dom - the man with whom he seemed to fit effortlessly. But a moment of crisis pushed them apart, and by the time Laurie looked around, his ex was moving on without him. Since then, he has played in the scene, gone home or to a club with one Dom or another. But while he has given his obedience to them, and received a degree of brief satisfaction and relief, he has never really given his submission to anyone in six years.

Toby is nineteen, and a very plausible nineteen, young, unsure, not a virgin by any means, but a guy for whom sex has been about fumbling and physicality and never really satisfying. He has come to realize that he's a Dom, and what he craves is to give his strength and control and pain to someone who wants them, to a man who is strong himself, but who finds satisfaction in submission. But at nineteen, finding that seems impossible. He goes to a local club, not with great expectations, but with curiosity and hope.

And Laurie sees him, a very young guy, thin, small, with acne, not gorgeous or conventionally hot, and yet a guy who stands tall and somehow touches the caretaker sub in Laurie. And in the first moment, meeting in the club, when Laurie kneels for this man, a new bond is forged which will carry them through the story.

I loved their differences, and how they fit together. I liked the way they did what felt right, without a lot of planning and discussion and yet always with care for each other. I loved that Laurie would try hard (and sometimes wrongly) to balance his joy in submitting with his greater age, experience and wealth. I believed that at first it was hard to find the way to come together for more than sex, or to believe there could be more.

The voices of each man were distinct. Toby felt young in most ways. He was very erudite for 19, but as a kid with a famous artist for a mother, raised in a house where most of the books were poetry, and creativity was the god his mother worshiped, I could believe it. Laurie's age, his competence and the veil of fatigue that had muffled his life until the cool fresh wind that was Toby blew it open, were palpable.

The writing is elegant and emotional, and the sex scenes are wonderfully done, especially the first couple. The beginning of the book was such a delight - I love that moment when you think "Yes, a new favorite!". I wanted to slow down and savor it, and couldn't.

One essential plot point seemed unlikely to me () But I could just accept it as a blind spot, part of Laurie's very real reservations about their age difference, his reluctance to make himself anything more than a passing fling in the life of a guy with 20 more years of youth to expect, as Laurie heads into middle age. Both men's reactions to the age issues were fitting, and added depth to the story.

This is a story about connections and about trust. There is a lovely slow build, both in bed and out of it, between the main characters. Through sex at first, and then gradually through moments of life built up around the sex, they work to figure themselves and their relationship out. In some ways, each seems more tuned to what the other man needs than their own issues. Almost as if, through the eyes of love, they see each other plainly but pay less attention to themselves. The book is by turns sweet, funny, sad, fascinating, and hot. Absolutely a keeper, and a reread.
Profile Image for Rachel.
755 reviews112 followers
November 11, 2018
5+ Snowdrop Stars

Aftercare , Mr. Hall. I know that you are familiar with the loving recovery that follows a highly charged BDSM scene. I know that you are familiar with it because your characters demonstrate aftercare so sweetly in “For Real.” Gentle caresses, tender snuggles, affectionate murmurs, water to rehydrate…All given to show that they are there for each other. Letting each other know that they are safe, helping them gain their emotional equilibrium…

However, dear Sir, what about your readers? Don’t they, after experiencing the euphoria of your magnificent story, deserve a little aftercare, too?

After entering into the hypnotic subspace brought on by reading “For Real,” I find myself in dire need of some loving aftercare. The story was so brightly beautiful that it brought me to my knees, and lashed my heart. “For Real” is so entrancing that while reading it, the world disappeared for a time, and now it hurts to return to real life. Such a heartbreakingly beautiful love story. Your wonderful book wrecked me so deliciously (just as Toby does to Laurie) and I loved it!

There are so many layers and complexities to this lush and lyrical story. On one level, it is about a 19 year old young man, tasting the delirious joys of kinky sex for the first time. On another level, it is about this same young man finding his way in the world, coming to terms with love and loss, and discovering his true passions. The relationship between Toby and his grandfather is heartrending, and made me cherish even more the love of my own grandparents.

This story explores what it means to be a 37 year old, desperately seeking fulfillment through anonymous kinky sexual encounters, while darkly drifting through life after the collapse of a great love affair. “For Real” explores what it means to fully embrace and offer love, and all of the pain and pleasure that accompany this brave gift.

Tobermory “Toby” Finch, who at 19 is more sensitive, self-aware, cosmopolitan, and generous than most people twice his age, stole my heart. Toby is a Dom; he loves metaphysical poets, quotes Dorothy Parker, is an amazing cook, and works in a greasy spoon café. If that doesn’t make him fabulous enough, he is also named after the famous ‘Beyond-cat’ of “extraordinary intelligence” in Saki’s short story Tobermory

Laurence “Laurie” Dalziel has suffered a Great Disappointment, and has been mourning the loss of his love affair for years. Laurie is a Sub; he is a graduate of Oxford, and is a doctor who consults about emergency and prehospital medicine and works with London’s Air Ambulance. He has shut down emotionally, craving sexual pain, but afraid to feel the pain that accompanies a love affair.

When Toby and Laurie come together, they complement each other so exquisitely. The sex is kinky and hot, but is also loving and sweet.

I want to give him everything, and the things I can’t give, I want him to take. He’s my prince. Fierce and fragile and tender and cruel.

The affection and devotion between Toby and Laure is poignant. When Toby teaches Laurie to dance, I wanted to swoon.

So, Mr. Hall…I will be waiting for a hug or a gentle pat on the head because this gorgeous story wrecked me…and I loved it!!

Profile Image for Lenore.
596 reviews366 followers
May 9, 2015
You’ve got to tell the world how to treat you. If the world tells you how you are going to be treated, you are in trouble—James Baldwin

For Real is a love story upending labels and stereotypes (sexual or otherwise); how two people come together not allowing themselves to be flattened into labels—dom/sub, top/bottom, beautiful/plain, younger/older, educated/uneducated, high class/blue collar, etc. It's the story of Laurie and Toby, who should have nothing in common, who, on the surface, are diametrically opposed to each other, whose paths would normally never cross.

A scrawny nineteen-year-old prone to acne can't be a dom. A dom doesn't bottom. A thirty-seven-year-old can't sub to an inexperienced kid. A sub doesn't top. A man pushing forty shouldn't get involved with a boy eighteen years his junior. A medical doctor can't be with a university dropout. Laurence Dalziel, the Oxford-educated, wealthy trauma doctor with the high social standing shouldn't be involved with Toby Finch, the seemingly uneducated kid who has no idea who his father is, lives with his artist mother in a loft in Shoreditch, and works at a café in East London.

Yet they do. And it's liberating for both of them. Their story shows that a lot of what we think we can't or shouldn't do at different ages and social standings or educational backgrounds is largely arbitrary because we're basing it on what society or culture dictates, essentially becoming static beings, confining and imprisoning ourselves into categories, groups, classes, with specific stereotypes attached.

It is a story about trust and its multiple expressions. Laurie and Toby instinctively trust each other on a sexual level, but struggle to find trust outside of that context, allowing their insecurities, their sense of inferiority (each for his own reasons) to dominate their relationship. It's how they learn to trust not only each other, but themselves and their instincts and their feelings—because they are real.

For Real is also a deeply emotional and a very erotic story, approaching BDSM in a way that feels natural and fitting for the characters. The chemistry between them is instant and scorching and undeniable. And even if you're not into that kind of thing, you understand why they are into it and what kind of needs it fulfills for them. That's also one of the reasons why it works, why the age difference never really matters.

For Real is also a lot of fun (I laughed out loud multiple times while reading it) and it features a set of great secondary characters—the sort you want to learn more about. I particularly enjoyed Jasper (I loved him—what wouldn't I give to have his and Sherry's story told in a separate book), Dom (the dom who plays the alto sax and is a heartbreakingly good person—I'd like to read his story too, someday), Toby's mother (who's an artist and doesn't believe in having sex with the same person twice or in wearing clothes in your own home).

On a technical level, the dual POV and the switch between past and present tense work seamlessly and effectively, especially for Toby's perspective. I was a little worried before I started the book because I'm not a huge fan of present tense, in this genre at least. But I needn't have worried because it was exceptionally done. The writing is lovely, as always; elegant and powerful and evocative. The voices of the characters are distinct, and Toby's in particular, is an absolute delight. He comes across really authentic, like the nineteen-year-old he is.

My niggles with the story were few and minor. Laurie's character became a bit blurry at times, and I didn't feel I had enough to understand his personality very well—maybe if he was more conflicted, if he struggled more with his submission to Toby's hesitant dominance. The pacing was also a bit uneven and it could have benefited from some narrative tension, but even though it's a long book (and maybe it could have been shorter by a 15%-20%), it doesn't become tedious or monotonous at any point.

By the way, I know I digress, but the first 20%, which correspond more or less to the first mini arc of the story, were absolutely fantastic and, as Karen puts it in her review, made me want to dance around with glee. Also, the first two sex scenes and especially the first penetrative sex scene were epically awesome. This is an extremely hot book and the other intimate scenes were great too, but those first two were my favourites.

There were a couple of plot points that strained credibility somewhat (), but they were minor and didn't take me out of the story. There were also some similarities with Glitterland (), but I assume they were intentional and I attributed them to the stories being set in the same verse (Spires).

Like I said, my niggles were minor and didn't affect my enjoyment of the story. I liked it so much, I procrastinated on work and cancelled plans just to be able to get back to it. It was a wonderful reading experience, as always with Alexis Hall, and it cemented his favourite-author status. I look forward to reading more of his work.
Profile Image for Gaby.
339 reviews5 followers
May 5, 2015
4.5 Rounded Up!...

WARNING: This does not make sense.

I honestly don't know how to write this review without turning it into a horrible personal thing. There are writers that manage to write stories that stay with you, and manage to write characters that seem way too close of a mirror of what you were, or are. Or both. This is one of them.

When I knew this book was coming out I knew to expect awesome, and I knew I could expect something different where BDSM is concerned. Of course you have whips, and cock rings, and chains, ropes, and cuffs, I mean, this is BDSM after all. But it's different. It's completely different to other BDSM books I've read.

Laurence (Laurie), is 37. He's a sub who's been in the BDSM scene for quite some time. He spent many years of his life with Robert, his ex partner, and ex dom. Laurie is not perfect. He's not strikingly beautiful, but he possesses something that makes him beautiful. He still goes out, and gets random hook ups, but that's about it. And then, he meets Toby.

Toby is a 19 year old guy. Even with the little experience he has, he knows he's a dom. He loves cooking. He adores what he can create in the kitchen. He knows what he wants and goes for it, and he also knows that he doesn't always know... Yet, there he is. He isn't incredibly beautiful either, yet, he is.

I'm not sure I can properly explain what happens between them. From the moment they meet they are kind of hooked to each other. It wasn't love at first sight, or just plain lust at first sight either, there was a kind of recognition when they set their eyes on each other, and that's what makes all of this incredibly romantic. Yes, romantic.

The book has many amazing hot scenes. Like, very, extremely, hot. Yet, this isn't what the book is about. This book is about learning someone, y'know? like, when you first meet someone and you want to learn them, not just about them, but... them. Like a map, or land. There's just too much, and too changing, and too complex, and there are layers, and sometimes what seems to be there really isn't and you have to turn around and find another way in?. So you try, and maybe that wasn't the right way either so you get desperate because what the fuck, and you drop everything and give up... But, did you really give up? is giving up what you really want? no, of course not. So, you go back. Or you wait for him to come back. And you do. Or he does. And does it even matter who came to who? Maybe, maybe not.

This book is about making yourself vulnerable. Once someone told me how he thought that it was in bed when we were at our most vulnerable. That the nakedness in bed left us pretty much naked in every other sense of the word. I think he was right, or at least partly right. So what happens when we put our clothes on and go on being what it's expected of us to be?... Expectations kill, sometimes. They freeze people and worry us to the point where we are actually afraid of not being as good as the other person thinks we are. There's no lies in this book, not really, but there's a lot of hiding. Both MC's hide parts of themselves because they are afraid to show, or to feel. However, the one who hit too close home, for me, was Toby.

Young and beautiful Toby. From his love for cooking, to his fear of failure, to his constant feeling of being lost and struggling to find a place, and yet, finding a way to put a brave face every day and smile... And then hiding again. Young Toby, thinking he was giving it all when maybe he really wasn't. It was like reading about myself. My insecurities, my passions, my dreams, my worries, my shame.. All of it. Way too close.

If you pick this up expect hot, wild, kinky sex. Expect ups and downs. Expect an 18 year age gap between your MC's. Expect loss, fear, and a bit of heartbreak. But above all, expect a story about love. A story of two men that are honest enough to know that they don't know... So they have to figure it out, and while they figure it out, they hold each other, and onto each other... Life's too short for bad books (so pick this one because it's awesome), cold coffee (the hotter the better), and awful Lemon Meringue Pies... So follow the recipe by the end of the book, and make a good one.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via Net Galley
Profile Image for Sara .
1,402 reviews155 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
April 27, 2021
No rating... DNF @ 38%.

Okay. I tried. I really did. I tried for me and for my friends who really liked it. I had to give up at 38% and just call it a wash. I am the odd ball out on this but I think the author is a one hit wonder for me.

The idea was great; a younger inexperienced but "natural" Dom who gets off on the idea of hurting someone and making them cry meets the older experienced sub who can possibly show him the way. I like the age gap and the play on roles but I could not connect with either of these men.

I think for me, when you label characters and then try to NOT label them by their actions, you lose something in the translation. Toby is a "Dom", and yet I never felt his dominance. No, I don't mean in the traditional setting of a BDSM themed story, I just never bought the dude as dominant even when he was playing at it. That is what it felt like, a little boy playing at an adult game and that really had nothing to do with his age. Laurie... ugh, why was his POV in past tense and Toby's in present? That was obviously deliberate and for what? To show us Toby's puppy enthusiasm at wanting everything now now now and Laurie's reservation with his past?

Again, I don't know.

I think I get what the author was going for and it wasn't that I didn't like the book, I couldn't connect with it, not even during the sex which was supposed to be hot. The sex that I read was good, it was sexy and then flowery words or purple prose was tossed in and I lost it. Lost it as in laughing because it was too cheesy for me. Just, no. Oh lord.

So I tried.
I wanted to like it.
I wanted to be in that boat with my friends who enjoyed it.
I missed the love boat, for real, dude.
I wanted to finish it.
I couldn't.
I tried.
Profile Image for Mel.
646 reviews80 followers
April 13, 2017
The book is getting better and better with every read or listen. Loved the audio <3






So we put our arms around each other again. I lead and Laurie follows [...], and there's moonlight, and we dance and dance and dance until we fly and my heart is so zing, I can't even.

I found it :D The perfect quote.
It makes me smile so much, I can't even.
Not only is this quote from one of my (many) favourite scenes, it's also this metaphorical kinda thing. You know, with the leading and following and dancing and all the rest, too.

I guess, by now you all know that Alexis is my favourite author, that I love everything he writes—no matter what—and everything he does and says. I often feel like this worshipping silly fangirl, that nobody takes seriously or should take seriously, but hey... I made peace with it ;-P

So, I want to remind myself of several things:

1.) Surrendering, submitting is opening yourself, offering yourself, in circumstances that are not restricted to some kinky sex you might or not might be into

I have this thing I do when I fight with my husband, when I feel cornered or misunderstood. I get all empty and hide myself from him. It's partly because, gosh, fighting is hard, but also because it's something I can withhold, I guess. Like maybe he isn't worthy of myself in that moment. It's not a conscious choice, though, just a habit or mechanism I learned early on in life.

[Laurie] still won't meet my eyes, so I reach up, catch his chin, and make him. He flinches, and then, well, it's not quite a sigh, but the rhythm of his breathing changes. Slows. His eyes soften slightly, and I realise it's how he looks when he's at my feet.
He swallows. Then whispers, "Thank you, Toby, for letting me kneel for you."
And, holy shit, if I hadn't just come all the come in the universe, I'd probably be coming right now.

This was just one example. Seeing Laurie submit to Toby in a conversation by answering him, although he doesn't want to, got me thinking about that part of myself. I even found the courage, the trust—in a minor argument—to not do as I usually do. I gave an answer, I gave him myself.

And isn't that the best thing a romance book can give us—apart from all the happiness, I mean? This is such a precious thing. To take something away from a book. And unfortunately, that doesn't happen often enough. So when it does, it's like this special thing that's to be treasured.

2.) Submission and dominance is not about acts, but about what it means; it's not about appearances, either

I'm not a huge fan of books that have a BDSM theme or content. It's not that I don't find it hot, because seriously, I do. Immensely so.

My first experience was with M/F romance. And here, I'm gonna have to tell you first that the main reason I stopped reading M/F is the power dynamics and the stereotypes that come with it. Power/dominance belongs to the male, submitting to the female. And even if you finally have a strong female character, that will stop in the bedroom at the latest. Adding BDSM to that is like heightening this to the extreme. Since I already hate the former, I absolutely can't with the latter.
Somehow, coming into the world of M/M, I didn't acquire the habit of reading BDSM. It wasn't a conscious choice. It's probably that in my mind there is still this little negativity present.

So, what I love is when submitting does not equal weakness. This is the case here in 'For Real', and it's so, so amazing!

Here are some quotes that show what Laurie thinks about it:

In truth, they [submissive acts] had made me strong. Proud, too. And I'd never really separated the need to submit, to be hurt, and sometimes to be forced, from what seemed to me the most natural impulses of love: to be touched, to be known, to be naked, to be safe.

Thank you for the pain. Thank you for letting it mean so much to you. Thank you for believing I'm beautiful. Thank you for making me feel so powerful. Thank you for loving me. Thank you. Thank you.

"I want to give him everything, and the things I can't give, I want him to take."

I found it also so very refreshing that there are no deeds automatically submissive or dominant.

It's not what you do, it's what it means.

But I suppose it comes down to whether you think dominance and submission are about acts or about people."

I absolutely love—again, I know—that Alexis messes with norms and expectations. It's not about how one looks, about how old one is, about sexual preferences. No, it's about who we are.

I have to say that I think I understood a lot more about BDSM than I have before. Some things will probably always be an enigma to me—the wish to cause someone pain, for example—but for me it all came down to this:

Toby liked to be under my skin. He wanted to be inside me, in my body and in my mind. In my heart.

It gets me [Toby] hard as fuck, and kind of tender at the same time [...]
the pleasure and the power and Laurie being Laurie—so utterly gorgeous when he's all undone, no control or pride left, stripped back to nothing but this. Because beyond shame, fear, and vulnerability, there's only true things: sex and love and us.


3.) Love or falling in love has no boundaries, no conformities, is not restricted in any outer circumstance

I fell in love with my husband when I was 17 and I married him 2 years later, and today, 13 years later, we're still happy together and love each other deeply. Age is no hinderance to love, to know what you want. Maybe it's even easier sometimes, because you haven't lost your way yet, like Laurie did.

Age difference obviously has it's challenges, but it's just a thing like every other. There's always something that is in your way, that changes your relationship, that challenges it. It's the now that counts. It's not the fear of a tomorrow that might bring problems. It will bring them. Just make sure to love in the now and try to conquer whatever is thrown at you. And peeps, this can be just something like moving places, changing jobs, getting kids, or even less obvious as getting older.

[Toby:] "You promised you wouldn't do this again, but you're still doing it. You're just doing it a different way. So stop pretending I could just walk away and it wouldn't mean anything to you. Stop pretending it's all about me and what I want. Stop pretending this isn't real. Just stop fucking pretending. Because you're here too."

4.) Baking can be so much more fun than you've ever thought possible

Yeah, I'm stopping with the 'wisdom' now. I just have to get it out there that this book is so much kinky fun without getting extreme on the kink. It's not about the heavier, dirtier, what have you sex. It's befitting an unexperienced dom who's learning what he likes and he can do and what is good for his partner. I had so much fun reading this. Not only the kinky, inventive sex, but also the psychological meanings, the push and pull—it was just as fascinating to me.

5.) A disappointment does not justify such annoyance. Mel, seriously, get over it

I have this other thing—I am a peculiar person, I know. I hate—no I loath—orchestrated angst. Situations, reactions that seem not plausible to me. I just... Makes me so fucking mad when I have to read about this. It's me. It's seriously one of my hard limits.

I have really problems to come back from this when it happens in a book, because I have issues, obviously.

So, at 88% there happens something in the book that I did not like. Gasp! Did you hear that, you all? I did not like something that is related to Alexis. And I did not like it because I thought that Toby was really overreacting and I just couldn't find it realistic that he would react so strongly.

So I crawled to my fellow buddy reader Marco, sniffing and disappointed and all, and got it all out, and it helped. Therapy. And then I read all my former updates again to remind me of the awesomeness of all the rest. And then I thought if maybe I had it all wrong, but came to the conclusion that it's quite alright to not love every single thing, that it's okay to not like something, but still love the rest and the book as a whole.

I don't know if I should show this in my rating... So maybe this is only a 4.5 read, or maybe it's a 5 star read, but it's not worthy to join my favourite shelf. Oh well, I don't know. I don't care anymore, either. I've come to doubt all the meaning of stars, anyway.

All I can say is:

Alexis deserves to be my favourite. With every book he writes. With 'For Real' right now. With the next book I'll read. I know it. Because his books and I, we just click. It's like they are made for me.

ETA, October 2015: It's been a while since I read FOR REAL, and from time to time I thought about it, and about the issue I had with Toby's behaviour. And I kinda had an epiphany. Don't laugh, it's probably obvious for everyone else, but hey... It's good to finally get there, right?

So... I wouldn't have reacted like he did, even at his age. I was and still am very different than he is. And in a way that's because I've been very, very lucky.

What I realised, though, is that I can't and shouldn't expect my personal behaviour as any standard. Ha. Well, I usually don't. But here, and sometimes when reading, I can't help it. It's because I get so involved in everything, that I somehow merge with the story.

At this point I shouldn't. I hope I will be aware of that in the future, that only because I would do differently, doesn't mean that a reaction isn't valid. Because it is.

ETA, January 2016, after my first re-read: I even loved this more the second time around. And I'm happy to announce that I really do get Toby now, not only how he reacts in their first real fight (what I've written about above), but also his dominant and sadistic side. I was just looking in the wrong place before. You have to look at Laurie to really get it :) Because... what these two have, what they give each other... it simply is beautiful and true and right.
Profile Image for Adam.
610 reviews309 followers
May 26, 2015
When this first popped up on my feed, I was a bit skeptical. 400+ pages of a 19-year-old Dom? It didn't sound fun. But I was very obviously wrong. 'For Real' takes age, society's expectations, BDSM, and sex, and basically turns everything on its head. It was marvelous.

I think what I enjoyed most was how Alexis Hall portrayed the contrast between two very different stages of life. Toby is nineteen, and has absolutely no clue what to do with his life. I think most everyone had moments of despair when they realized that legally being an adult meant actually doing something with your life. Of course, for Toby it was even more terrifying because he didn't have those few years of reprieve that college/university give.

On the other hand, Laurence has a great job, is highly-respected in his field, and doesn't have to worry about material things. But on a personal level, he's approaching his fourties and has had nothing but one failed relationship and a string of hook-ups. There's an almost desperate feeling to Laurence's thoughts. Yearning for something deep and meaningful, yet realizing that you basically have nothing, can't be pleasant.

Reading how Toby and Laurie come together and try to banish each other insecurities was beautiful. They're not perfect, and they screw things up a lot, but they work until they get it right. The two pinged all of my romance buttons.

It was entertaining to see Toby's introduction to the world of BDSM through his POV. I've got to give kudos to Alexis Hall to doing something unconventional with BDSM. There are no formalities or complexities in what Toby and Laurence do.

As someone who gets easily bored with the formality that is often portrayed in BDSM-themed books, 'For Real' was right up my ally. It's just plain, hot, fun kink as the two explore and experience each other. Also, I don't think I'll ever look at lemon meringue pie the same again.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I'd recommend 'For Real' to MM readers who enjoy relationship-focused books with hot kink.

ARC provided through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Sheziss.
1,104 reviews430 followers
August 3, 2016
I admit I was confused. I wasn’t sure who was the Dom here. Supposedly Toby calls the shots, but Lauren fulfilled that role a way too often. Yes, I’m aware Toby is new in the scene, and I could really imagine him as the perfect controlled Dom in the years to come. But this book felt… strange, at least.

Am I allowed to have these doubts and at the same time love the relationship just as it is?

As if.

Despite all of the above, I could really appreciate the D/s theme here. I loved that first scene together, when Toby asks Lauren I have to say it: it was refreshing and daring and I was impressed and amused.

Toby is so mischievous I was grinning like an idiot every time he managed to have his way with Lauren. He is very creative. And the time they meet at the club, I must say my own knees were like jelly in that same moment. And that scene when I thought everything was going to shit and become an embarrassing turning point of their lives but suddenly… Toby says no. I loved him to pieces then, I swear I would have kissed the floor at his feet and everything else around him.

And him.

Yes, there were plenty of moments I truly adored.

I loved how they weren’t the prettiest guys on Earth. Lauren is described as attractive but not handsome, whereas Toby is lanky figure and face full of acne doesn’t make him the ideal picture we have of a Dom covered in black leather.

In fact, I was really glad I didn’t miss the leather here. The BDSM dynamics in this book are more spontaneous, more due to the the heat-of-the-moment than an scheduled and calculated scene from both sides. I don’t say it was more natural nor adequate, but I believe it something different to everything I’ve read before about the topic. More humorous, less serious, but equally fun.

I loved the kinky. And the food games.

The age gap was shocking and an important matter in the story. Josy pointed it out to me that Toby’s POV was in present tense, whereas Lauren’s was in past tense. It’s a smart move to show how age shapes them both in their way of thinking, or how their way of thinking suits their ages. Toby’s mind is more focused on the now, on the immediate, on the carpe diem. Lauren’s worries about a past that has been dragging him down for too long, and a perspective of things that is more mature, but that doesn’t mean it’s more spot on than Toby’s. In fact, it’s Toby the one who recognizes what’s important very early in their relationship and wants to grab it with both hands and never let go. Lauren is wary and has been hurt, and he doesn’t want another big mistake in his existence.

But Toby makes him feel alive for the first time since… a long way ago.

He has never felt the compulsion of surrendering to anybody. Not since Robert.

And that scares him like nothing else does.

On the other hand, Lauren is more experienced in other aspects of life, and he wants to guide Toby, something that Toby wants to hide from him at all costs.

I liked seein that things were not that simple as to say that Toby-was-above and Lauren-was-beneath, because in fact they guide each other and their roles change depending on what they are dealing with. They take care of each other, worry about each other, help each other, and protect each other. I liked seeing how they complement each other and that no one was a master in a specific field, they just were imperfect, and they learn from their mistakes and their insecurities and their demons.

I have to dedicate a few words to Alexis’s writing. I really have a hard time with him. I’m not a native speaker so every paragraph of his was a true challenge to my knowledge of the language. Alexis’s cryptic style is unmistakable but it also requires such a high level of attention I sometimes miss the point of the conversation entirely. It’s one of those authors who really make me wonder “Do I really speak English?”. It’s not just the slang of the cultural British hints. It’s more than that. Something that made re-read entire paragraphs hoping to get the dialogue straight. The syntax is so complex and unusual I often wonder if I’m the only one having problems with it.


My twin monster Josy and I read this together!

Profile Image for Alexis Hall.
Author 49 books9,935 followers
September 10, 2022
Some notes:
- FOR REAL is book 3 in my Spires series, with there being 6 books in total.
- Each story is loosely connected and will be about a different couple—so you can read them in any order you like.
- GLITTERLAND, WAITING FOR THE FLOOD, and PANSIES will also get the same new covers and extra content, and their rereleases will be staggered.
- After PANSIES you can expect a book for Niall & David (who appear in GLITTERLAND) and one for Dom the Dom (who you meet in FOR REAL).

Expected (re)release: TBC. https://quicunquevult.com/book/for-real/
May 17, 2015

Don't Take My Word For It, Mary Berry Thought It Was Awesome!!

Alexis Hall is one of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures ... I just love he's writing....Beautiful, Meaningful, Thoughtful.

It's that intangible thing that we all recognize but would be hard pressed to truly describe. Like human behavior and how to translate that onto a page......well, this is what Hall does so exquisitely.

For Real...is just that...REAL!

Two guys, two completely different lives, different ages, with pasts and ideas and wants and misunderstandings..... full of mottled emotions...drawn together.


Laurence Dalziel aka Laurie
is worn down and washed up, fed up with the BDSM scene. But he's friends have other idea's and persuade Laurie he needs a night out , this is where he meets Toby.

I liked Laurie, I warmed to him gradually..... Laurie kept his feeling very much closeted, but when he loved, he loved deep.

Toby Finch. Nineteen years old. Fearless, Fierce, and Vulnerable.


Toby wore his heart on his sleeve, and I instantly loved him, he knew what he wanted sexually , what he fantasized about. But was uncertain if he was going about it the right way, feeling safe and excited all at once.

I wouldn't normally pick up a BDSM book, although I have read a few and enjoyed them....like I said this is Mr Hall's work...so yeah I'm gonna read it!!

If you like your KINK with a capital 'K' and a side order of Very Kinky Fuckery...plus throw in a slice of Lemon Meringue Pie.....your in for a REAL treat..it's HOT, intimate of full of feelzzz!

Don't think I'll ever look at a Lemon Meringue Pie again without MY cheeks heating up thinking about this book *dear lawd – gulps*

Bravo Mr Hall....excellent in execution and presentation.....DELICIOUS

ARC kindly provided by Netgalley & Riptide in exchange for honest review.
Profile Image for Papie.
604 reviews111 followers
May 27, 2022
This was brilliant. Hilarious, sad, sexy, and so real. The writing is impeccable. The characters are so real and amazing and you slowly fall in love with them.

Toby. Baby Dom, insecure, passionate, impulsive, and hilarious. 19yo. I loved his voice, I laughed so much with his POV.

And I didn’t know what to do, because once you’ve put a condom on wrong, it’s hard to keep selling the idea that sex with you is going to be fab.

Laurie. Hardworking. Cynical. Over it. 37yo. He infuriated me at first. So hung up on his ex. Six years after their breakup. SIX. YEARS. His insecurities over his relationship with Toby made sense. But it was so hard seeing him be so sweet one moment, and push Toby away the next.

Damn that impossible boy. I couldn’t use him like this. I couldn’t allow myself to become more to him than a temporary . . . fancy? Aberration? Distraction. A story from his foolish youth he might tell some other lover.

The age gap. 18 years. It’s a lot. And we see Laurie hesitate, and Toby fall head over heels the way you only do at 19.

 “Well, what do you expect me to say?” “‘I love you too, Toby’ is kinda traditional. Would be nice.” “You can’t nag someone into falling in love with you.” He gave a sad little smile. “Yeah, I noticed.”

The BDSM. I loved seeing them in the BDSM scene. Using floggers and cuffs, and nipple clamps. But at the same time, not playing their roles perfectly. Toby likes hurting people. Laurie likes getting hurt. Everything else is flexible and negotiable. I loved that.

I could keep quoting all day. This book is so quotable. Read my highlights instead. I’ll just tell you one more thing: this is going straight to my favourites shelf.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,174 reviews380 followers
November 8, 2015
BR with Elsbeth and Belen

I am sad. This started out so strong, and I thought for sure this would be amazing. And it was good, really. I just had all these expectations after reading the blurb. So basically, it is all my fault that I didn’t like this book more.


Because I truly loved Laurie and Toby. Laurie and his quiet ways and Toby’s insecurities and babbling. The sex scenes were hot and I really liked those too. There was a lot of humor too, especially when we were in Toby’s head.

Maybe I should have stuck an extra finger in there. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? One, two, three, dick. I can’t remember how Laurie does me. By the time we reach that point, I’m so delirious, I probably wouldn’t notice if he used a cucumber.

But I have two problems that stopped me from liking the book more (and I really wanted to).

- I would LOVE to read about a 19 year old Dom and a 37 year old sub with them acting like a true Dom and a true sub. That was not the case here. I would say almost not at all. I couldn’t wrap my head around why Laurie would even submit to Toby. Toby who was too insecure (and showing it) to be able to handle Laurie (in my opinion). I just felt it came out of nowhere every time Laurie dropped to his knees for Toby. I felt he just hadn’t ‘earned’ it somehow.
- And the book was just too long. I felt it dragged a bit and that it went on and on about Toby and his (non-existent) goal in life.

The thing I did truly love was that it felt like a real relationship. It wasn’t all about the BDSM. And I like that. These men were people too. I like that in my BDSM books.

If I hadn’t been so excited about reading about a true 19 year old Dom and a 37 year old sub, my expectations wouldn’t have gotten in the way and I probably would have liked it more.

Profile Image for Cristina.
Author 23 books88 followers
July 24, 2019
I've read For Real by Alexis Hall twice in the space of three weeks. The first time I was so stunned by this novel that I couldn't even think to set it aside. My second read, instead, was all focused on savouring the language and the characters in this wonderful novel.

Toby Finch and Laurie Dalziel are utterly real and moving in their fears, hopes, and behaviours.

Toby is fierce, headstrong and scared as only a 19-year-old can be but also so true to himself to be incredibly affecting. His intensity is unwavering - be it in the grief for his granddad's passing or in the passionate love he feels for Laurie. He demands love and attention but under this restless veneer, there's a fragile boy who's seen all his dreams stripped away from him and is now lost and adrift. He might sound morose but he never is, even in his moments of utmost despair. The liveliness of his narrative voice is profound but also very often hilarious and the touches that make him different and special (e.g. his love of 1940s' movies or the intensity with which he thinks about and discusses food) are simply amazing.

Laurie responds to Toby's fierceness with a pretence of detachment and coldness. He uses the social convention of the age gap as a defence mechanism and the ultimate wall to protect himself from the inevitable capitulation in the face of Toby's courtship. He's at the same time unavailable emotionally but over-available physically until he comes to realise that what he and Toby do together spills out and moulds what they are and what they feel . His narrative voice - subdued where Toby's is lively but equally profound and so often quietly meditative - is always compelling.

Submission and dominance are clearly central elements in their relationship and the twist in the plot - with the younger character being the dom - adds a very interesting dynamic to their story.

Hall's writing style is a whirlwind of emotions - it's funny, melancholic, intense, sensual. I was simply left speechless and the passages I've re-read time and time again are countless.

As already said: 5-amazing-moving-clever-iconoclastic-stars.

And in homage to the wonderful scene set in Oxford: https://youtu.be/Kq0_G9mYppo ( Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart sang by Judy Garland in MGM's Listen, Darling , 1938)
Profile Image for Line.
1,082 reviews173 followers
February 13, 2019
AND dirt cheap at amazon.com right now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BRD69LV/...


Still one of my favourites!
This is a book that I read every time I need to get 'my kink' on, but don't feel like taking a chance on BDSM novels that end up pissing me off because the subs are seen as furniture or sandwich-makers. Or when I need to laugh out loud.

Laurie is one of the BEST subs ever IMO, and I have a special place in my heart for Toby. He is one of the best MCs I've ever read, and I think this book is a fantastic story of growth, love and seeing yourself differently.
Profile Image for .Lili. .
1,154 reviews260 followers
May 20, 2015
I was reaaaaally nervous about requesting this book. My first try with this author didn't work out so well, but this one-

was great!

*I loved the writing- it didn't feel like almost 500 pgs.
*LOVED the relationship build up!!
*This book is smoking hot!!!!

I can't write a review that will do this book justice- all I can say is: READ IT!!!

**ARC kindly provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review**
Profile Image for Kati *☘︎・゚ readsRomance.
411 reviews84 followers
May 20, 2022
4.5***** stars

It's been a little while since I've read this book but I think of it a lot.

There is this scene right at the beginning of the book that had me totally enamored and made me fall in love with Laurie and Toby, and their story that was so different from anything else I've read this far, instantly. [scene is shortened]

“I know what I want. I really know what I want. I just don’t know how to get it.”

“It’s like,” he went on tormentedly, “you’re not allowed to be a dom until you’re forty and six feet tall and own your bespoke bondage dungeon. But I’m probably not going to get any taller, and forty is forever away, so what the hell am I supposed to do now?”

“I just want to know what it feels like, y’know?” “What?” “Anything. Any of it. Something really basic. Like—” he drew in a deep, surprisingly steady breath “—I want to know how it feels to have some guy on his knees for me. And not a kid. I want a man, a strong, hot, powerful man, doing it because he wants to and because I want him to.”

So I did it. In the middle of some East London party, beneath the eyes of untold strangers, for a nineteen-year-old boy whose name I hadn’t even bothered to ask, I mustered what little grace I could remember, and went to my knees. Clasped my hands behind my back.

There was a stillness in the room. Because nobody had ever seen me on my knees before. I’d bled and screamed but never knelt.

Their relationship was a thing of beauty and to me, so unique. I believe there aren't a lot of books that tell a story of an older, physically built, sophisticated man who is submissing to a much younger, smaller and inexperienced guy. But Laurie did. And he got a confidently domineering Toby as a reward ♡
Profile Image for Eva.
363 reviews162 followers
September 2, 2015
Beautiful, painful and raw 5 REAL stars
“Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me

—John Donne”

Toby, oh Toby

“He’s my prince. Fierce and fragile and tender and cruel.”

Oh boy, how I Loved this book...It hit all my buttons... amazing MCs, love, angst, BDSM...Oh, I Just couldn't put it down. The story is brilliant and so very very real.

Toby is a magnificent character, a 19 year-old who is so honest and loving and scared and mature and immature all at the same time. And then Laurie, sweet Laurie. I loved how he manages to open up his heart it was beautiful to watch.

This is one of the few books I had difficulty putting down, just wanted to keep reading and reading ... add loosing myself in Toby and Laurie and all the REAL drama unfolding. And it was enough of drama.

Sex was magnificent, kinky and oh so tender.

Loved, loved...just freaking loved everything.

Heads down, one of the best books I read this year. An absolute MUST READ by my one more new favorite author. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Profile Image for BevS.
2,689 reviews2 followers
July 4, 2021
I cannot do the story justice at all with this review, I am not worthy of it's magnificence, so I'm not even going to try [besides, my quotes would have taken up nearly as many pages as the story...I highlighted nearly everything, THAT'S how good this story was].

I will also say I've added a 'brilliant writing' bookshelf especially for Alexis, and a few other writers who excel at WORDSMITHERY , and make my knees go wobbly with the sheer and utter wonderfulness of it all, and I can think of no higher praise than that.

As far as adjectives are concerned for this LOVE story 💕💕💕 [yes, it is and I loved it and Laurie and Toby SO much, even though I read this and Waiting for the Flood in the wrong order, tut tut], well..... exquisite, heartwarming, dazzling, accomplished, outstanding, superb, glorious et cetera, et cetera, and nearly forgot, sizzling!! Mind blowing just doesn't cut it at all Alexis, many congratulations.
Profile Image for Alvin.
388 reviews102 followers
June 19, 2015

Everything about it: Toby and Laurie, their struggles, everything about themselves, their desires, them together, their passions,...everything was wonderful.

The only thing that's holding me back for giving it a perfect rating is the references. I don't understand most of them. :(

But nevertheless, this is one of the GREATEST STORIES I've read this year. Congratulations to Mr. Hall!


4.5 STARS!

PS: Btw, for those who are scared of BDSM, the kink in this story is not scary at all. It was lovely and fantastic. Go read!

Profile Image for Maya.
282 reviews68 followers
April 6, 2016

Reading this book was like spending a gorgeous summer evening with someone really close, drinking your favorite wine until you get giddy and laugh to tears at everything and anything, and then suddenly you end up spilling your heart out and share things you were scared to say or even think. But that’s ok because this person gets you and won’t look at you in a weird way next time they see you. And then you feel relieved and free and just … better but also somewhat nostalgic because you don’t know when you’d get to feel this way again.

So yeah, like that. Like the best evening ever.

My favorite romance so far this year.
Profile Image for *J* Too Many Books Too Little Time.
1,921 reviews3,431 followers
Shelved as 'i-m-a-quitter'
August 23, 2016
Throwing in the towel at 30%.....

Mind you it took me 3 days to get to this point.


So I think the length more so then anything got in the way of this one. Granted, had I enjoyed what I was reading a bit more I might not have noticed.

It's no secret the BDSM theme is not my thing. I don't really get it. And I really didn't get it here. Their roles didn't fit in the traditional sense of things. But again what do I know?!

I didn't really notice the age gap so much at first and I actually found Toby quite funny...at first. But then the 19 really started to shine through.

And then I started getting annoyed. I might have stuck it out if this book was more like 300 pages instead of 500.

Profile Image for Gail Carriger.
Author 53 books14.8k followers
March 30, 2019
I truly adore this book. One of the best portrayals of BDSM ever put into print. Hall's writing is truly brilliant. Some of their sentences are almost painful to read, they are that good. I will read anything written by this author for that reason alone, but For Real is (so far) my favorite.
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